The Ethics of Protest

Question: What ethical dilemmas have you faced and how did you resolved them?

Noam Chomsky: There's fundamental questions that are arising all the time.  Like, how do I distribute my work and energy and effort?  Every minute of the day you have to face such questions.  Sometimes they're—I wouldn't exactly call it an ethical dilemma, but—although I guess it is. 

For example, in the early '60s, I had to make a really hard, for me, hard decision.  Should I start becoming really active, instead of just talking, in critical human issues that were arising then?  The war in Vietnam, the growing war in Vietnam, civil rights movement, many others.  So should I become really active in those or should I devote my time and energy to very exciting intellectual work and to my growing family?  I had little children.

Well, that's a hard decision. 

I knew perfectly well that you can't just put your foot in it and walk away.  If you get started, it's a growing commitment.  And my wife [Carol Chomsky] and I had to work that out in some fashion.  It was not simple.  In fact, at one point, she actually had to go back to college after 17 years because it looked as though—if I might serve a long prison sentence and we had three kids to take care of.  Well, there's decisions, that's a serious decision, but there are lots of others all the time.

Recorded on: Aug 18, 2009

Noam Chomsky recounts how his anti-Vietnam War activities nearly jeopardized his family.

Why Lil Dicky made this star-studded Earth Day music video

"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.

Culture & Religion
  • Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
  • His new music video, "Earth," features artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheehan, Kevin Hart, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.
Keep reading Show less

After death, you’re aware that you’ve died, say scientists

Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.

Credit: Petr Kratochvil. PublicDomainPictures.net.
Surprising Science

Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?

Keep reading Show less
Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less